John M. Wadd

John M. Wadd exemplified the power of local radio. He served the residents of northern Wisconsin in numerous ways during his long career and believed that “broadcasting is a privilege and a sacred trust.” He was known at the voice of Northwoods Wisconsin.

Wadd’s lifelong love of broadcasting started at Wauwatosa High School where he produced and hosted a weekly radio program. After serving in World War II and studying stage performance at Lawrence University, he started his professional radio career at WAUX in Waukesha.

Wadd spent a few years at a television station in the Twin Cities before returning to Wisconsin in 1951 to take a job at WOBT-AM in Rhinelander where he spent the rest of his career. There he served at various times as a host, program director, news director, and general manager. He hosted “The JW Show” for more than 35 years. His true passion was time spent on air.

As the station’s lead news reporter, he was on call 365 days a year for more than 30 years and covered some of the biggest news events in northern Wisconsin. He interviewed numerous political and community leaders.

He also broadcast Rhinelander high school football and basketball games both in the role as play-by-play announcer and color commentator. Over 30 years he covered every high school varsity football and basketball game, both home and away.

Wadd was a prolific copywriter and starred in most of the commercials produced at the station during his career.

He was a mentor to numerous young broadcasters who went into successful careers in journalism. He was involved in fundraising efforts for scholarships at local schools.

Wadd worked both on and off the air with charitable and service organizations. He helped raise countless dollars for health, education, and family charities. He was a huge presence in Rhinelander and surrounding communities and remains an inspiration decades after his death.

Wadd died in 1987. He was 65.

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